A vicar sick of brides arriving late for their own weddings has instroduced an £100 ‘fine’ system to make sure they get to the church on time.
Canon John Corbyn will hand back the £100 fee, which is built into the cost of the ceremony, to couples who turn up on time.
But if they are more than 20 minutes late, the cash will be shared among volunteers at Holy Cross Church in Bearsted, Kent.
Luckily, the Canon, 58, has not yet had to penalise any couples at his church or nearby St Mary’s Church in Thurnham.
He said: “I’m not calling it a fine, but if you want to hire the venue for one hour or two hours, you pay different amounts.
“It’s a case of hiring the church for a longer period if you’re late, because it’s a question of having it for different times.
“The money goes to the 20 or so volunteers who give up their time to assist at a wedding, including the verger, organist, choir and bell ringers.
“These people give an hour or so out of their day – generally at a weekend – which can turn into 90 minutes or more if the ceremony runs late.
“It seems reasonable to me – the vast majority of weddings, and all of the ones this year, have started within ten minutes of their set time.
“While I was away, two weddings were 20 minutes late, which is half the time that the service would take.
“When you distribute the money around, it’s not much, but it’s a token so they’re not being taken for granted.
“There were two weddings in a row which did run late and people felt that way.
“It is an incentive and it generally works.
“We encourage brides to be here ten minutes before the service anyway, and they set the service time, not me.”
If the service starts within 10 minutes of the scheduled time, the £100 is refunded and a cheque is handed over along with the certificate of marriage.
Canon Corbyn hit on the idea while on sabbatical in Uganda, where he read a notice about their method of ensuring weddings took place on time.
The Canon added: “I had a chuckle at the approach.
“But when I got back home, there had been two weddings, in quick succession, at my church when the brides were each more than 20 minutes late, without explanation, let alone apology.
“The team was a bit frustrated to say the least.”
It’s not the first time Canon Corbyn has caused a flurry among his flock.
In 2003 he hit the headlines after imposing a ban on brides wearing strapless wedding gowns in his church.
Clara Hubbard, who married on September 9, said: “People think I am always late, so I was determined to get to church on time to prove them wrong and claim the £100.
“I was ready in time but the car got stuck in traffic on the A249.
“Though I was a minute or two over the ten minutes, I still got the cheque.
“My husband and l loved the service and the whole day was just great.”